In this post: 15 of the best documentaries for teens and tweens that will expand their worldview without leaving your couch.
What are we going to watch tonight?
In our home, screen time has become somewhat of a family fun activity. Our goal is to try to get our teen and tween off of mindless scrolling and trying to use their tech with some purpose.
Watching a documentary with your teens can be a great way to change up your traditional movie night and make things a little educational without being boring. Documentaries can be just as fun as a regular movie, and get your teenagers thinking about the world around them.
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Here are 15 of our favorite documentaries to watch with our teens and tweens:
Blackfish is a compelling story about the mistreatment of orca whales at SeaWorld. This documentary follows the story of Tilikum, an orca whale living in SeaWorld.
Imagine a world where you were constantly told you could not play sports? For Deepika Kumari, a young girl from a small village in India desperately seeking a way out of poverty, this was her life. In Ladies First, her journey from barely surviving to a world-class archery champion will both break your heart and inspire your entire family.
Living on One Dollar
In Living on One Dollar, a group of college students travel to rural Guatemala trying to survive on one dollar a day, the typical field worker’s income. This eye-opening documentary challenges viewers to re-think the way they spend money and view the “things” in their life that they value.
For the Love of Spock
If your family is a Star Trek fan, they will love For the Love of Spock! This documentary follows the famous character Spock and the man who played him. If you are a lover of Star Trek or even space, then you will love this documentary!
If your kids liked watching Blackfish, they might also find Cowspiracy just as moving. This documentary focuses on the journey of environmentalists and what it could take to save our planet.
From One Second to the Next
If you are looking for a compelling documentary, From One Second to the Next is one worth watching! This documentary follows the lives of people who were affected by texting and driving and is great to watch with your new drivers. The cinematography is powerful and you won’t stop thinking about the characters.
This is a hard watch and will stay with you for a long time, but it’s so important. Bully originally received an R rating, but the content was so important they changed it to PG-13. It follows five bullying victims and offers an intimate glance at how this behavior impacts entire families. The movie’s producers launched a national campaign to end bullying called The Bully Project, in which kids can get involved.
42 Grams shares the story of Chef Jake Bickelhaupt and how he turns his life around by going from running an illegal restaurant in his home to becoming a culinary celebrity. This story is perfect for showing that anyone can turn their life around and make a name for themselves.
The Ivory Game
The Ivory Game is a documentary that sheds light on the struggle to stop poachers from killing animals for their tusks. This documentary shares footage on the ivory trade and how animals are losing their lives for the sake of money.
He Named Me Malala
A look at the events leading up to the Taliban’s attack on Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking out on girls’ education followed by the aftermath, including her coming to American and her speech to the United Nations. Your kids may have read the book, but this extraordinary tale is worth watching.
The Bad Kids
The Bad Kids takes place in Black Rock Continuation High School and follows the story of one principal’s mission to help realize the potential of his at-risk students. This story is an amazing rags to riches story like you’ve never seen before!
Minimalism is a documentary about finding the important things in life. How might your life be better with less? Minimalism examines the many flavors of minimalism by taking the audience inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life — families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, and even a former Wall Street broker — all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less.
Fire at Sea
Fire at Sea tells the story of a group of Europe’s migrant crisis on the island of Lampedusa. This fantastic film takes an entirely different approach to covering this topic in an enlightening and unique perspective. The filmakers do a great job of telling all sides of the story.
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower can teach your kids about the power of one person being able to make a difference! This documentary shares the story of a teenager named Joshua as he tries to fight against the Chinese Communist Party.
Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery
Russell Brand holds nothing back when he discussed his own struggles with drugs/alcohol. The actor is known for his comedic acts and has played several roles where the character is using drugs or alcohol. Brand made the decision to take control of his addictions when he was told he faced death, insanity, or jail. He offers an intriguing perspective on the perils of drug use, how he started, and how one loses control.
Where and How to Watch the Best Documentaries for Teens and Tweens
There are so many good documentaries on Netflix, Amazon Prime or YouTube to watch while you’re at home! Your teenagers will love watching these documentaries, and it can be something fun and relaxing to do while you’re at home.
Just remember that documentaries are a great launch pad for important discussions with your teens and tweens. Keep an open mind and let your big kids express their opinions openly and without judgment.
If you are looking for more show ideas to watch with your teens, I have a whole post here to help you find a great TV series.